Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recipe #262: Mesquite Dry Spice Rub

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I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of smoky tasting (i.e., hickory-smoked or chipotle flavored) foods or preparations, with one major exception: mesquite seasoning. :) Mesquite barbequed chicken can be really good, and, although I rarely have them, I also enjoy mesquite BBQ flavored potato chips. ;)

The good news is that I've discovered a new way to enjoy mesquite BBQ flavored chips without the pangs of remorse that follow ;) -- i.e., by baking my own mesquite-flavored kale chips, which undoubtedly are lot lower in calories and fat than store bought potato chips. In fact, I just baked a batch of these kale chips today. :) (And yes, there'll be a recipe to follow. :) ) If you can't tell, I've created this spice mix recipe expressly created for this purpose, although I'm posting it as a separate recipe here, in case people would like to use it for other dishes as well.

Please note that if you're going to make this recipe into a BBQ sauce/marinade, you'll want to add a few other ingredients first before using it, namely some lemon juice &/or vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of olive oil, and some tomato paste. Plus, this way, you'll also be able to substitute honey for the palm sugar or jaggery (a combination of unrefined "evaporated" cane and palm sugar) in the below recipe.

Most people know that I try to avoid using refined sugar as a recipe ingredient here on this blog (and also in my daily cooking & eating) whenever possible. Even though jaggery and palm sugar have a lot less refined sugar content than regular sugar, I only used it as an ingredient in the below spice rub, because it's purpose was primarily for dry applications, like mesquite BBQ kale chips and other similar snacks. Honey won't work as an alternative in this instance, since the chips have to be as dry as possible when baked; the chips need to bake, not steam. ;)

As anyone who's ever tried this seasoning before surely knows, mesquite is supposed to be smoky, salty, spicy, and just a little bit sweet.

I didn't want to resort to using dry, powdered artificial sugar substitutes or "natural" ones like stevia, both of which have possible health safety issues (including potential cancer risks and a whole host of other problems). [The FDA has gone back and forth on their position on stevia, initially banning it and then later permitting it as a food additive, even though there are only 12 countries that currently allow it past their borders. (Gee, do such limited numbers set off any warning bells in your head?! ;) ). The "Big Food" lobby began putting on the pressure on the powers that be in our nation's fair, shinning capitol, and the FDA caved to the political pressure. However, that's a whole other discussion for another time. Don't even get me started on that topic -- i.e., the whole Montsanto debacle, etc. -- or we'll be here all day. ;) ] The bottom line is this: I don't know about you, but I'd rather not take these kinds of chances and play "Russian Roulette" with my health. ;) I'll stick to all-natural, whole foods that aren't such a big scary question mark, thank you very much. :)

Technically, this recipe isn't really "mesquite" flavored, per se, as it wasn't prepared using mesquite wood, which isn't exactly an easy thing to find locally, although you could always order it online. ;) However, it does approximate the mesquite BBQ flavor, and could potentially be made on mesquite wood-fired grill, if you're lucky enough to have access to these sorts of materials and equipment.

Mesquite Dry Spice Rub
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp. tomato powder (if you can find it - optional)
1/2 tsp. dried, crushed rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1/4 tsp. dried sage leaves
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground (dry) mustard
1 tsp. (dry) palm sugar or jaggery* (if unavailable, use brown sugar as a last resort)

Directions: Blend all ingredients together in a small bowl & transfer to an airtight, glass container. (Glass keeps spices better than plastic & won't react with the spices like plastic does.) Store in a dark, cool place.

Yield: Makes 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. (This is probably enough for a small chicken or a 3.5 qt. batch of  oven-baked kale chips.)

Chef's Notes: *Palm sugar or jaggery can be found in an international market carrying Asian/Indian products.

I didn't add salt to the above recipe, although if you're going to be using this spice rub as part of the aforementioned mesquite sauce/marinade, the soy and Worcestershire sauces will probably provide enough salt to suffice.

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